Work on mega projects gains momentum

Coronavirus-induced lull over

Work on the country’s mega projects is now gaining momentum following a slowdown since February for the coronavirus outbreak.

There is no shortage of funds, all project officials, engineers and other stakeholders are trying to find ways to complete the construction work within the stipulated time.

Planning Minister, MA Mannan made the observations while speaking on the progress of the country's mega projects till July this year.

He said, "Attempts are being made to complete the construction of these projects on time by working double time. A meeting was held with those concerned, and instructions were issued to work day and night and finish the work on time. Implementing agencies have shown a positive attitude in this regard. They are working."

Work on all the seven top priority Fast Track Projects now under construction, are getting pace gradually following withdrawal of the shutdown, says the latest progress report. Until July, work achieved an average of 44.18 percent progress. Of which, the Padma Bridge progress was the highest at 81 percent.

The other projects include Metrorail, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Rampal Power Project, Construction of Single Line Dual Gauge Track from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar and Ghumdhum via Ramu, Padma Bridge Rail link, and Matarbari Power Project.

As of last July, a progress report has been prepared on the progress of the fast track projects. The report has recently been sent to the Prime Minister's Office by the Economic Relations Department (ERD).

Most projects have not yet fully overcome the impact of the Covid-19. The speed is slowly increasing after the shutdown. Foreigners have not yet fully joined the work. On the other hand, most of the construction materials for the project come from other countries, including China. These items are stuck due to lockdowns in different countries. Local officials and employees could not work during the general holidays caused by the coronavirus. As a result, this has directly or indirectly hampered the implementation of priority projects. This is increasing the construction cost and implementation period of the projects, said the report.

Analysts said, the projects are aimed at accelerating economic growth. Delay in implementation will not result in the desired growth. They think that even in Covid-19, special importance needs to be given to the implementation of priority projects.

Former lead economist at the World Bank, Zahid Hussain in this regard said, "Special importance needs to be given to the implementation of fast track projects even during the difficult times of Covid-19. It would be possible for project officers and employees to carry out the work by maintaining quarantine conditions within the project area. The work of foreign engineers and consultants who could not come to Bangladesh in the face of the coronavirus outbreak could also be done online. It was not a difficult task to bring the whole project to the computer monitor through webcams for necessary advice."

The installation of all 41 spans of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge is likely to be completed by December this year since the progress of the main bridge construction nears 90 percent, an official says.

“The progress of the main bridge construction is 88 percent, so far. If situations favour us all (41) spans will be installed by December," Dewan Md Abdul Kader, executive engineer (bridge) of the Padma Bridge project, told Bangladesh Post.

Even when the coronavirus broke out, construction was underway following health guidelines. However, rise in the water lever due to floods and monsoon halted the installation of spans.

Apart from the main bridge construction, the progress of river management work is also progressing fast. Some 870 out of 2,927 roadway slabs have been installed while 1,400 out of 2,959 railway slabs and 195 out of 438 viaduct girders have also been installed, according to the project progress report. 

Meanwhile, progress in the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant is continuing in full swing with the addition of more manufacturing equipment amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Assembling and welding of spherical casings of reactor coolant pumps (RCP), and local heat treatment of bottom weld of one of the steam generators for Unit-1 of  the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant have been completed in Russia recently.  

The Metrorail Line-6 project is being implemented from 2012 to June 2024. Its total cost is Tk 21975 crore. Till last July, Tk 11399.99 crore was spent. The overall progress stands at 47.10 percent. Although the work was stopped for a few months due to coronavirus, the work pace is gradually increasing. 

Construction of single line dual gauge track from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar and Ghumdhum via Ramu  is being implemented from July 2010 to June 2022. The cost is Tk 18034.48 crore. Till last July, the expenditure was Tk 4957.18 crore. The financial progress of the project is 27.49 percent. Overall physical progress stands at 41 percent.

The rail link project on the Padma Bridge is being implemented from January 2016 to June 2024. The total expenditure has been estimated at Tk 39,246.80 crore. Till last July, the cumulative expenditure was Tk 13,021 crore. The financial progress of the project is 33.18 percent and the overall physical progress is 25.23 percent.

The Matarbari coal-fired power plant project is being implemented from July 2014 to June 2023. The total cost is 35984.46 lakh. Till last July, Tk 13303 crore was spent. Financial progress stands at 37.39 percent. Besides, the overall progress is 31.60 percent.